Hair transplants are a procedure in which healthy patches of hair are selectively moved to thinning or balding areas on one’s scalp. This has become a permanent treatment method for those suffering from alopecia, traumatic hair loss and more. While this modern approach has helped solve this issue and bring newfound confidence to many, it is interesting to take a look back at where hair transplants got their roots.

As early as the 1930s, doctors in Japan began looking into solutions for treating burn victims who had lost sections of their hair. After much research into the topic, Dr. Shoji Okuda began experimenting with taking grafts of skin with healthy hair and placing them on parts of the scalp which had been affected by burns or other injuries. His treatments also went as far as to help treat the loss of one’s eyebrows or upper lip hair. Dr. Okuda’s work made tremendous progress in the overall study of hair transplantation, but it wasn’t until later that his process became more widely known, especially as the world was in the midst of World War II at the time of discovery.

Fast forward to the 1950s, where a New York-located dermatologist named Dr. Norman Orentreich began his own study into treating bald spots on the scalp. His studies built the foundation of a popular term known as “donor dominance.” Donor dominance, when applied to hair transplantation, shows that the non-affected hairs that get transplanted to balding spots keep their resistance and prevent hair loss, despite being moved to the affected area. For this reason, hair transplants have been shown to be highly effective.

In the decades that followed this observation, doctors began using hair plugs to transport bigger sections of hair. However, these proved to be very unnatural-looking, turning many people off from the procedure as a whole. In the 80s and 90s, progress began to be made once more, transitioning back to smaller grafts and leaving hair plugs in the dust. Doctors began finding ways to make the transplant look more natural, utilizing micrografts to their advantage. With this focus on creating a natural-looking hairline, doctors in the 2000s continued to use technological advancements to their advantage, mimicking the patients’ original hairlines as best possible.

Nowadays, hair transplants are in their best era yet, as modern technology has allowed for smooth procedures that result in natural-looking results. As we look ahead, it is quite possible that healthcare providers may introduce robotic hair transplants and other futuristic methods that result in even better outcomes.